Updated: September 7, 2012 6:39PM
WHEATON — An arrest warrant has been issued for Howard Richmond, the former pastor of a storefront church in Aurora, alleging he detained a witness in one of his pending cases, DuPage County Court records show.
Richmond, of Naperville, is wanted on a $100,000 warrant issued late last month, accusing him of communicating with a witness. Prosecutors contend Richmond met with a woman in a Chicago park on June 26, a few days after being indicted on charges tied to a bounced rent check on the space he used near Westfield Fox Valley Mall for his Life Reach Ministries. Richmond “did forcibly detain (the woman) and communicated directly to her knowingly false information,” according to court records.
Prosecutors obtained the warrant on the witness communication charges on Aug. 29. Richmond is due back in court on Oct. 17.
Richmond is awaiting trial on charges from 2010 in which he is accused of bilking church followers out of $459,000. Authorities said Richmond would show church members fake bank statements with large balances as a way to convince them to loan him money for new church property.
In June, prosecutors charged Richmond with using a similar tactic, showing a $200,000 deposit slip to get an associate to write a $114,000 check to cover overdue rent on the leased church space. That check bounced, leading to the church’s eviction, and Richmond briefly being sent back to jail. He was released after posting an additional $10,000 bond earlier this summer. He would have to post another $10,000 in the witness case to be released from jail again.
Richmond had been scheduled for trial in June, but the trial was put on hold when the check scam charges were filed. Since then, Richmond has hired a new attorney and a new prosecutor has taken over the case.